This article will contain BvS spoilers. You’ve been warned.
The DC Extended Universe (still not a fan of that name) is in a bit of a weird place right now. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice just released last Friday, and while it was meant to act as the big bang to DC’s cinematic universe, it’s instead been met with a near-universal negative response (of which I am apart of, you can check out my review here), with a 29% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes. While the film did lay the ground-work for the other films on WB’s slate (Wonder Woman, The Flash, Aquaman, Justice League etc.), the DCEU does not have a solid foundation to build off of. Man of Steel received a mixed reception, and Batman v Superman has fared even worse. WB at the very least must be rethinking their plan going forward.
It remains to be seen how BvS will do at the box office. It enjoyed a record-breaking weekend with an over $170 million dollar domestic opening, but the negative word of mouth may cause the film to suffer in the long run. According to Variety, the film needs to make $800 million dollars to be considered a financial success. Yeesh. That’s a big number. Honestly, before this weekend there was no doubt in my mind that it would reach that goal. However, that was before the reviews came out.
I am not near as sure as I was that BvS will reach that magic 800 anymore.
There were rumors circulating months ago that Warner Brothers was nervous about the response Batman v Superman was going to receive. Well, it seems there was a semblance validity to those rumors. It was stated that WB may be looking to push Justice League back, and replace it with a solo Batman film in its place. After this weekend, this is looking more and more likely. What will really determine this is the box office drop the film receives next weekend, which will be really indicative of what audiences think of the movie.
If the film under performs, the question remains: Will Zack Snyder return for Justice League? Well, I don’t have an answer to that question. Currently, Snyder is still set to direct Justice League, which is to begin shooting April 11th. However, he’s already had two critical failures in a row for DC, and many (including myself) have criticized him for his misunderstanding of the characters. While I didn’t think BvS was a total failure (there was actually a lot of good stuff in it, mainly Batfleck), some of the creative choices Snyder made may hurt the DCEU in the long run.
Batman is a murderer in the DCEU. There is no going around that, no going back. He has broken his one cardinal rule in his first appearance in DC’s cinematic universe. From what I have gathered from various interviews with Snyder, this was his creative choice. The character of Batman has been tarnished, and I’m not sure how they can fix this going forward. It’s certainly an issue that will need to be addressed in the eventual Batman solo film, but as it now stands the DCEU Batman has murdered over a dozen people without remorse.
That is my biggest fear with Zack Snyder helming Justice League. It’s not that he is incapable of crafting a great film. He has done it multiple times before, with Watchmen, Dawn of the Dead, and 300 to a guilty-pleasure extent. I think many of the “film” problems (editing, pacing, poor script, over crowding) are as much WB’s fault as they are Snyder’s. But the mishandling of icons such as Batman and Superman is something I lay solely at the feet of Snyder.
Superman isn’t a brooding, dark character in the way Batman is, but Snyder seems intent on forcing that persona onto him. Snyder’s Superman is both unlikable and ineffective, which completely robbed his apparent death at the end of Batman v Superman of any lasting emotional impact, especially since we all know he is going to return in Justice League.
So, Snyder severely mishandled DC’s two biggest heroes in their face-off film, what is he going to do when he gets his hands on the entire Justice League? I’m not sure I want to find out. Which is a shame, because I liked Zack Snyder! He’s got a great visual eye and while it has its issues, BvS is a beautiful looking film, in terms of both cinematography and the way Snyder directed the action set pieces, but the way he handled the characters is unforgivable.
I don’t think Zack Snyder should remain the director for Justice League, I just don’t think he is right for the part. Regardless, Justice League needs to be pushed back, and Warner Brothers needs to rethink their whole plan for the DCEU. If they continue on their current path, I fear Justice League will be as big as a disaster as Batman v Superman. They are trying to rush their cinematic universe to catch up with Marvel, and it is really biting them in the ass. Pushing back Justice League out of next year will give them time to either find a new director or allow Snyder to address all of the issues he’s been criticized with his entries into the DCEU.
Replacing the original Justice League spot with the solo Batman film would greatly benefit the DCEU. It would leave time for The Flash and Aquaman to come out, and allow these characters to be firmly established outside of Justice League, making the eventual team up that much more effective onscreen. Putting serious distance between Batman v Superman and Justice League would also allow for greater anticipation for the return of Superman from his obviously temporary death.
This would also give WB the chance to right all the wrongs of Batman’s character outside of the Justice League. That way, audiences won’t be thinking about the fact that Batman is a murderer, and will be able to see Justice League as almost a clean slate for the character. Ben Affleck’s performance as Batman has been universally praised and is widely considered to be the best part of BvS. Giving his Batman a solo film before Justice League would garner a great deal of goodwill for WB.
Regardless, I don’t think Warner Brothers and DC can continue on their current path, and I think they’ve realized that. The DCEU is off to a really rocky start, and if WB does nothing to address this fact, then I am extremely nervous going forward. So far, Justice League is on its way to being the superhero version of Transformers.
Here’s to hoping for the best.